E-mail Marketing Faux Pas

Web marketers make a ton of mistakes in all aspects of e-commerce. These are just a few of our favorite faux pas that i-merchants make with e-mail.

For most recipients, it’s a split-second decision whether or not to delete your e-mail, assuming he or she even receives it, and this decision is based almost entirely on the “from” line and the “subject” line.

Once the recipient opens it, the design, coding and content of the e-mail elicit another quick read/close/delete reaction from the recipient. Some pitfalls to avoid:

Designing the e-mail as to be viewed full screen with images enabled. E-mail doesn’t work like that. E-mail is scrolled through and in small windows. Designing the e-mail to look like a Web page with masthead graphics and branding messages in first page view relegates the key messages and calls to action “below the fold” of the preview pane.

Favoring images instead of plain text content.
Some e-mail clients do not display images by default. Any important content designed within an image could be missed entirely.

Similarly, more sophisticated coding and design elements that work well for Websites like Flash and CSS should be avoided. If the e-mail client doesn’t display the code as intended, the e-mail won’t communicate the message.

Failing to include access to a low-fi version.
Graphically rich e-mails should have a message at the very top stating something to the effect of “If you can’t read this message, click here,” which will take the recipient to a Web page containing a properly formatted version of the e-mail.

Skipping the spam score.
Many phrases like “free access,” “best rates,” “big savings,” “call now,” “full refund,” “guaranteed,” “incredible” and “opportunity” can ding your Spam Score, a score that is calculated to determine whether your e-mail gets delivered or not. But there are non-intuitive things that can hurt your deliverability chances as well.

Crafting an e-mail that will get past the spam filters is not straightforward. Always run your e-mail through a spam-scoring tool before sending the campaign.

Not properly introducing yourself.
The e-mail’s “from” line should, in most cases, include the company name or brand name. Including a personal name in the “from” line is useful if the recipient is going to recognize that name.

Jill Kocher is manager of natural search consulting at Netconcepts. Stephan is founder/president of Netconcepts, inventor of GravityStream, and co-author of The Art of SEO, due out this summer.

For more from Kocher and Spencer on the top online faux pas marketers make, including SEO slipups, paid-search spoilers, social-media mistakes and blogging blunders, look for the May issue of MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT.